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TTAC commentator sastexan writes:

Sajeev -

One of my best friends is shopping to replace his Mazdaspeed6 for something a little more utilitarian that can hold his bicycle and gear in the back (frequent triathlete). Here’s the issue – he wants to get another manual shift car, but his wife is pressing for an automatic because she has never learned to drive stick.

And he is worried that he will get tired of this new car and want to donate to her and get rid of her CX-7 (he is seriously anti-SUV), but feels that if he goes automatic, that day will come very quickly. I suggested he find a good driving school and send her (and maybe a friend) to learn how to properly handle a stick shift and have some fun doing it. That could get her excited about the potential and won’t create marital strife of him trying to teach her to drive manual.

First, does the Best and Brightest think this is a good plan, and second, any suggestions for driving schools?

Sajeev answers:

Luckily for your friend’s marriage, he cannot pawn his wife off to a driving school: most teach the basics of car control, not how to drive a stick. You gotta accelerate/steer/stop before you attend, so it’s time to take matters into his own hands. Because everyone has their “must haves” in anything, especially in a life partner. And if there’s marital strife from this…well, perhaps he’s selling the wrong bill of goods.

Like friction modifier to the limited slip axle that is a marriage, your friend must show his wifey the value in driving a manual transmission.  It’s more interesting to drive, for starters. But more importantly, it makes her exponentially cooler than every other woman around him. Am I lying?

What man doesn’t want a woman that’s fun, exciting and maybe a bit more competitive and challenging?

How could you, a gearhead of a man, not go out of your way to excite a woman like that in return?

When sold on this promise, how can she resist? She becomes exciting to her man! She’s an object of desire!  She’s hooked, so he can teach without fear of her losing interest.  Or patience. This is how love should work. If you don’t believe me, ask my special lady friend.

Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.


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New or Used: Two Buck Chuck and a Spaghetti Dinner Tue, 08 Nov 2011 17:16:46 +0000


Jerry writes:

Hey Sajeev and Steve,

Hope everything’s going well over at TTAC. I’m submitting my 2nd question and hoping you guys have some insight to offer.

I currently drive an 06 xB, and I’ve been very happy with it. It’s fully paid off (I bought it used with cash), and it’s served as a great car for moving and helping friends move. When they were selling these, they really should’ve teamed up with IKEA to offer a gift card because this car is the ultimate IKEA-mobile.

A while back, I also wrote in to ask about a comfortable highway cruiser…I loved the panther suggestions, but I ended up with cold feet and didn’t buy one since gas prices have no upper-limit in sight. My situation hasn’t changed that much since then, except that I would like a safer ride since my girlfriend is driving a lot more now. Thankfully, she can drive stick, so that opens up a lot of good used options that aren’t as in as high a demand.

Initially, I was looking at the Ford Five Hundred because of Michael’s good reviews, but that led me down a rabbit hole to check out the Avalon as well. While boring, I know the Avalon is extremely comfortable, and I imagine the Five Hundred to be similar (will test drive one soon). But in my Craigslist stalking, I’ve also come across 2 cheap manual transmission Camrys, an 07 and an 09 for $11k and $14k respectively. The 07 has 69k miles and the 09 has 32k miles. Potentially, these might even drop a bit since most buyers seem interested in getting an auto. Do these seem like reasonable deals? I’m hoping to keep this next car for the next 4 years until my girlfriend graduates grad school and we can have a place with a garage. That’s when I’ll consider something more sporty and interesting.

Steve Answers:

The good price for the Camrys is really dependent on the features, condition and miles. That is unless it happens to be one of the thousands of wrecked and rebuilt Camrys that get shipped out every year to developing countries.

Those works of plaster caster art live up to the most famous buy-here pay-here dealership in the Memphis area. Who upon sitting with about 12 bikini bare babes in a hot tub and his birthday suit (covered with bubbles), says to his televised audience… ‘It’s all good!” He means it too…thousands of his customers pay for his unique commercials.

Just remember Jerry, “it’s all good!” until you get that monthly payment on top of your student debt. But seriously… why don’t you just let your girlfriend figure out what she wants in due time and go get it…or not.

Let her get a lot more time behind the wheel. Enjoy a few nice quiet romantic nights with a bottle of wine and old write-ups of New vs. Used. Actually make it Two Buck Chuck and a spaghetti dinner. She’s in grad school after all.

I have been in your shoes in the past, Jerry. So what did I do? I bought my then girlfriend, now wife, two vehicles along with one I razed from the dead.

Total cost of all three cars? $2000.

Total selling price of all three cars? $2300.

Total time with all three? Six years, four of which were after she got her degree.

If you must buy something, start with something inexpensive. Then follow my series on ‘How to Buy a Used Car” and make sure it has good crash safety ratings. Most non-enthusiasts are usually as happy in a $3000 car as they are in a $13000 car. Good luck!

Sajeev Answers:

Well that’s a tough act to follow.

Jerry, our Magic 8 ball can’t tell you if those Camrys are good deals, condition of the wear items and service records are a big factor in determining if a 3+ year old vehicle is a good value. But I will say that a stick shift Camcord might be right up your alley. As long as you are okay with the resale difficulties of such a boring vehicle with a not-boring transmission. That will be a tough re-sell, relatively speaking.

That said, I am totally down with you getting a 5-speed Camry. Or Accord, but I think a Camry LE is a far superior land yacht. My only point is that you can get a nicer/better/cleaner Panther for less or (usually) much less money, with a better ride and plenty of change in the bank for their significant fuel economy penalty.

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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